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October 8, 2015

Mike Matheny

St. Louis, Missouri - Workout Day


THE MODERATOR: If you have a question, we'll get the microphone to you. First question for Mike.

Q. Mike, just your thoughts on facing the Cubs team. You've seen a lot through the season and through the years. This is obviously on a different stage.
MIKE MATHENY: Different stage, same game, and it's a team that we've seen recently, we've seen all year, we've seen go through a lot of change, and just a very good club, just like the team they beat last night. So not surprised that they're here, and now, you know, all the anticipation we finally get to go out and play, and I know that probably look a lot like what it looked all season long. It was a tough fight every time we got a chance to play.

Q. Is there anything you can share about your roster decisions today?
MIKE MATHENY: Yeah, I can give you the whole roster. Starting pitching we're going to start with John Lackey in Game 1. It'll be Jaime Garcia in Game 2, Michael Wacha in Game 3 and then obviously Lance Lynn will be Game 4. Bullpen: Trevor Rosenthal, Kevin Siegrist, Jonathan Broxton, Adam Wainwright, Seth Maness, Carlos Villanueva and Tyler Lyons will make up the 11-man bullpen. Catchers: Yadi Molina looks great, going to be ready to go. So he and Tony Cruz will make up or attaching core. Then Matt carpenter, Jhonny Peralta, Kolten Wong, Mark Reynolds. We will have Brandon Moss and then Greg Garcia making up our infield. Also, in our outfield will be Matt Holliday, Jason Heyward, Randall Grichuk, Tommy Pham, Stephen Piscotty and Jon Jay.

Q. Mike, is the old adage of rest versus rust, you guys have been off since Sunday, they're coming off of an emotional high last night. Do you anticipate anything being different in tomorrow night's game or any team having an edge because they've been playing and coming straight here or you guys getting a little bit extra time to heal up and rest up?
MIKE MATHENY: I think the rest was well timed for us. You know, you can always look back later and see if something doesn't look right, but right now the way our guys have gone about the workouts the past two days everything is indicating that the rest was needed and well used, and these guys are ready.

Q. Mike, because Adam's had the experience in both areas, how would you -- would you use him as a long man or would you use him for one inning? Have you decided how you might go about it?
MIKE MATHENY: Yeah, he hasn't been built up to go very long. I think we're at the point where it's a potential where he could go past one inning, but right now he's just going to mix into the bullpen with a spot to come in in the middle of the game and if he's real efficient, real good and sets up right, you can see him going back out. But mostly the thought is to bring him in as a typical reliever for one inning.

Q. Could you elaborate on the decisions that went into the outfield and maybe some of the skills that you saw guys have, especially a guy like Tommy Pham, who you saw really jolt the line up there for a while, and how you might use them?
MIKE MATHENY: Yeah. We could sit here for a long time talking about the decisions made on this roster, and you know, it wasn't a lot of fun. People say that's a good problem to have and I say problems are problems, and it's been tough to go sit and talk with some guys who have made serious contributions to this club and not allow them to be part of this playoff roster. So trying to get together with the staff and figure out what's going to be best for our club as a whole. You just try and take our club as a whole and realize what potentially might happen and ^ how we could best set ourselves up, and you take skill sets, as you brought up with Tommy, of his ability to come off the bench and run, the defense that he brings and the ability to play center field at times; and then the bat. The bat plays into it, and the offense that he was able to produce in the short time that he was here. So all those go into that plus column for him, and we believe gives him an edge to where he can help us move forward.

Q. Right or wrong, people are already starting to make sort of a big deal over the experience factor. Cardinals have a lot of experience in post-season play; Cubs don't. Can you just speak a little bit about the experience factor, how it plays in and maybe doesn't play in in the case of the Cubs, who a lot of people are just saying, it's like maybe they don't know they're supposed to be tight or nervous or whatever, stuff like that?
MIKE MATHENY: Didn't seem to affect them last night. (Laughs). So it's a talented team, and they're going to be a well-prepared team. And they compete, and they've been looking forward to this for a long time, I'm sure, just as we have. You know, we started mid September talking about being here, able to sit in front of you and talk about these issues, and that's exactly where that team has been. And they've been preparing all season long, and once it comes down to it, it is baseball. And there are some advantages, and we'll absolutely try to maximize those on our side, within our walls. Hope not to preach it too much, because there's only so far that'll take you, but there's some things that our guys have been able to learn along the way that we think are an advantage, and they have experienced guys on their side, too, who have been in the post season and can bring some value to what it looks like to compete, what are some of the distractions, what are some of the things that you need to prepare yourself for that might be outside the box, might be outside the just regular day of 162-game season. So with that being said, they do have the experience, maybe not the personal experience, but they have plenty of guys that know what's going on. For us, we do make sure that we give our guys the floor, an opportunity to share what they have, because we think it does help our young players. When it gets down to it, though, it's baseball and it's application and who can go out and execute.

Q. Given their history, though, do you sense a hunger from them maybe that you don't see in maybe other teams?
MIKE MATHENY: If they don't have a hunger, they wouldn't be here. Same way with us. They haven't necessarily had to suffer through any long droughts or anything else people want to build up. That isn't necessarily something that they've individually had to go through. This is a baseball team who's overcome a lot of adversity, had to, to get here. Just like us. So they've grown together as a club, and now there's great story lines out there, without question. It helps build this up, but you got two rivaled teams already, two very good teams that won a lot of games this year and have had had some tough matchups already. So there's plenty to help boost the excitement about this series, but for us, and for them, it comes down to let's just play the game. We can talk about it all we want. We can build it up all we want but it gets down to let's go out and do this and let's see who's standing last.

Q. Talk a little bit more about one of the story lines, how cool is it for these two rivals to be meeting for the first time in the post season with so much at stake?
MIKE MATHENY: Yeah, I get the cool factor, especially for our fan bases, and fan base is the heartbeat of this industry. And so that means something to us. But when it comes to us and doing our business and going out and competing, it really doesn't matter. And you know, I absolutely, and I can speak for the clubhouse, too. You gotta be real careful for trying to wish for a certain team, because one day you just might wish that you didn't. And so we just watched last night as unbiased as we could and tried to look at it through the eyes of scouting out the team that we're going to play next, not necessarily pushing for one team or the other, regardless of all the story lines and excitement that can come from it. But we know that our fans get up for these series, and so do theirs, and I don't think it's going to be an issue of not having life in the stands.

Q. You talked about a lot of tough roster decisions. I imagine leaving Matt Adams off was one of them. Can you share, did he just really not have enough time to get the repetitions going into October or just too stacked of a roster?
MIKE MATHENY: I think out of respect to all of our guys, like I said, we could sit here for a long time and go through each one of these decisions. I just don't think that's fair to them. We've had some personal conversations about how this came down and the complexity behind choosing each guy and why. And once again, this could have gone a lot of different directions, and Matt Adams is a guy that we think very highly of and somebody we still want to keep sharp never know how this will all play out and I can say the same thing about quite a few guys that aren't on this roster right now.

Q. Is Jason Heyward your starting center fielder then?
MIKE MATHENY: You'll see Jason in center field, but we also have guys that can play center field besides Jason.

Q. Mike, I don't know if advantage is the right way to say this, but how much of an advantage is it for you guys that Arrieta would only be set up to go Game 3, only pitch once in the series, unless something crazy happens, and conversely, is that sort of off set by you guys not having Carlos Martinez at all?
MIKE MATHENY: I think goes very similar back to what team we're actually playing. You just never know what pitcher is going to show up that day. They've got great pitching that can come out and pitch like Arrieta did last night. And obviously he's done it all season long and just put himself in a very elite group by what he's been able to do this season. So we don't take that lightly, and understand the difficulty we've been in that spot having to use that play in game and use the guy that we have at the top of our rotation. So there's absolutely something to be said about that. But they do have a staff, and you start talking about the guy we're going to face tomorrow night in Lester. We know that this is a top-tier pitcher, and regardless of who they're going to throw out there, we know they're going to get their best just like what we're going to do.

Q. I'm sure you've addressed this before, but in short, how valuable is Molina and how big is it to have him back there, and how healthy is he? What percent is he at, if there's a way to describe his condition?
MIKE MATHENY: Yeah. When we talk about him, you know, we're not shy at talking about all the value he brings to our club. The tangibles, the intangibles. You know, he was doing quite a bit even when he wasn't on the field, when he wasn't cleared to play. But where he is percentage wise, he looks good to me and he's swinging the bat well. He took some live swings today off a pitcher throwing a simple battery game. Everything looked right. You saw him receiving the ball. Everything looked right. So I don't have a percentage for you except he looks good. And absolutely. Every one of our guys that we have the opportunity to bring back after injury or for whatever reason, it's a big deal, and especially when you start talking about somebody with the impact that Yadi has on our club.

Q. With the hit by pitch stuff that you guys had at Wrigley Field the last time you played the Cubs and some of the things that Joe Maddon said, did it make you think about that last night when the benches cleared with the Cubs and Pirates and do you think that that could manifest itself in this series, the stuff from last time around at Wrigley Field?
MIKE MATHENY: We just go play the game. This time of year, you play teams as much as we play teams in our division, you're going to have times when, you know, whether it's just the competitive nature or whether it's tempers, whatever it is, it goes in a direction like that. But for us, you know, that's in the past. We go out and play the game and understand that we're required to go about the game the way that we think it should go.

Q. Lyons pitched pretty well the last couple of games. Did you consider rolling the dice and putting him in the starting rotation or because of his small sample size of starts, he was going to be where he is?
MIKE MATHENY: We've considered, yeah, I would hope everything, and you know, this is something that we have a ^ great opportunity to have Tyler in a position where we could use him at any point, and if we needed to stretch him out, we could do it because he is stretched out. If something came up and we needed to start him, we could do that. But right now we think this gives us our best chance, and Tyler's going to have some flexibility in his role. He's a guy that can come off and face one guy on their roster or he could come in and throw multiple innings. So that's a nice asset for us to have.

Q. Do you believe that you manage against the other manager, and what has your experience been like this year managing against the Cubs and Maddon for the first time?
MIKE MATHENY: I think you try to think maybe along the same lines, I guess that's semantics saying the same thing, but yeah, trying to figure out what he might do and how he might counter. And yeah, I try and get together with my staff and go over and analyze, they did this. Typically that might not be something we would have done. What are they thinking, how would that apply to us, how might that help us improve. So every time we get an opportunity to face a team, especially manager who's been around a while and had a lot of success, I feel it would be crazy not to try and figure out how I can become better at what I do by watching what he does. And he's got a great reputation for a reason.

Q. Part of the question was with Yadi, Mo said yesterday that it had everything to do with functionality. If it had anything to do with pain tolerance that Yadi would be in there and he's one of the toughest guys that he knows. Do you agree with that and how difficult was it for him to get back and make this roster?
MIKE MATHENY: I think he feels pain. He just doesn't recognize it, or know how to define it. That's part of the position. That's part of this time of the season, too. Most guys are feeling something. But Yadi has an ability to be able to put some of those things behind and still go out and not just play the game, but play it well and be able to put the distraction, whatever it is, that's bothering him away and bring something good to the field. So I don't think any of us are surprised. It just came down to how much was going on in there and would the doctors feel good with allowing him to move forward, and he passed every test, and functionally as Mo said we're watching him do what he needs to do. Now, if anything changes we're going to have to change course at that point. He's a smart guy, too. He doesn't want to go out there if he's not able to contribute. If he's not able to compete and do what he needs to do, he knows that that would hurt our club, and right now that's not the situation and we're very fortunate.

Q. One of the big reasons we're all sitting here right now is because Stephen Piscotty, the last time most people saw him is laying flat on his back in left field. Can you give us the update, and is there any sort of lingering aspects of the collision?
MIKE MATHENY: No. What a great story that we're able to sit up here and honestly say that we have run him through the paces on the medical side, and there are no reservations at all. He's passed every test, and also applaud Major League Baseball for the system that they have in place and not taking it lightly and not just throwing it aside as a concussion. And I got a soapbox here that I want to get on because this is a big deal. It's trauma to the brain. And when we saw that collision, I think there was a collective gasp all through not just Cardinal Nation, but baseball when you see something like that. And it didn't look good. And for Stephen to be able to bounce back, but also to have a baseline test and to have some protocol of what needs to happen and how to ensure the fact that these guys are going to be safe, I think is a great step forward that this league has taken. And with that being said, Stephen had to jump through all those hoops and appeased everybody and feels great. He had some soreness there for a while, which is to be expected, but that's the benefit of these last few days here, to get his body recouped and now it's just back to baseball.

Q. Can you talk about with Wainwright being in the bullpen and really capable right-handers, left-handers, doesn't matter, variety situations, how that allowed maybe a flexibility or how you were able to structure the bullpen with a different weapon that you didn't have earlier for this series?
MIKE MATHENY: Yeah. Adam brings so much besides just experience. And he has been a guy that's finished games, too, in big stages. And so that's just another plus. But he is with the curve ball effective with the lefties as far as the splits go. But it's going to come down to who's our best at that particular time, and we have been very encouraged by what we've seen and how he's progressed that he's going to not just go out there and be an incredible story when a lot of people said he wouldn't make it back this year, which is an incredible story. But he's also a very sharp pitcher right now. He looks good. And we're going to give him opportunities, too, in big situations to show that he can go out there and do it.

Q. Mike, we've talked a lot this year about how a manager can motivate and also galvanize a clubhouse. As you've kind of looked at other managers and learned from them, I wonder if you have watched how Joe Maddon and what he's done with the Cubs this year and what role you think he's had in kind of creating the evolution of that team as it's improved through the year?
MIKE MATHENY: Yeah. I think every position has its purpose, has its need. And there's an inherent leadership need in this position, and without question, he's been able to provide that. And you see a group of guys that truly believe in what they're doing. You know, they have had a very consistent battle cry that, you know, things are going to change. And this is living proof right now that things have changed, and they've made great strides, and you can't do that without each person and no matter what it looks like, the support staff, the on-field staff as well as the players and obviously the manager, everybody has their role in that. And I know it all has to come together right and there has to be some leadership that goes along with it. So obviously all that points to a guy coming in and doing what many thought he would do.

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